Three Things I’m Learning from NaNo (so far!)

2013-Participant-Vertical-BannerHi, all! Jennifer here. As you may have seen on my personal Blog and/or Twitter, I joined NaNoWriMo!

**Cue the menacing music**

This is a huge deal for me because it’s the first time I’ve decided to join. I’ve balked at NaNo before because I’m basically a slow writer by nature and also because I can’t think of a worse time to have to commit to writing regularly. I mean, November? Right before the holidays?


Why can’t it be in the winter, when I have absolutely nothing to do but sit and try to stay warm? Oh well. I am but one mere mortal and cannot change things, so autumn it still is.

It’s only been about a week into this thing, but I can tell you I’ve already learned some things about myself as a writer.

What are they? I’m glad you asked!!

1) I am still slow writer, but not that slow. Meaning, I can definitely get in a good amount of writing in a short amount of time. The only difference is I’m not going back and rewriting sentences like I normally would.

2) Having buddies really helps. The first thing I do before I start writing is check on my buddies’ progress. When I see that their word counter meter has moved, I think, “If they can do, so can I.” And then I get right down to work. Then nothing feels as good as being able to post my own progress.

3) Life doesn’t have to stop.  I personally have the time (and prefer) to write in the mornings. I can always get what I need to get written in that time frame and then I have the rest of the day to get on with other things in my life. And yes, that means, nobody in my household is suffering or not having dinner because I’ve committed to NaNo.

I like the pep talks and emails I get from the NaNo site too. Everyone there is so supportive and it’s all so very motivating.

So far so good!

In the meantime, have a great November and see you in December! (Hopefully with my book complete!)

Don’t forget: The blog swag this month is a $10 Amazon gift E-card and a copy of Letters from Home courtesy of Bethanne Strasser! Comment on any post in November to be entered to win.


If you’re a writer, are you doing NaNoWriMo? If not, what helps you to stay motivated to write every day?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

The Joy of November

Every fall or early winter, life takes a different turn for me. The air starts cooling down and the weather changes, sometimes drastically. Living in Austria, a place with four seasons, I am reminded why people have gone crazy from gray days. The first year I was here, I read that the winter had the most days without sunshine since World War II. All I could think was wow.

Today, I look outside and see the clouds gathering because it’s supposed to rain. It’s another gray day and frankly, all it makes me want to do is grab a good book and curl up on the couch. Or for me, I grab my tablet and curl up on the couch. LOL!

Still, being a writer makes these days hard as our observation skills are not as tuned as normal. When I write setting, I try to make the weather a living thing. It is really when you think about it. I remember a line once from the movie Twister that I always thought fascinating; Jo’s talking and she says, ‘You’ve never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you!’ Weather is like that and one can use it in stories as character when needed.

Everyone remembers the famous first line: ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ from but how many of us really remember what novel it’s from. I didn’t and had to look it up: it’s from the 1830 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton called Paul Clifford. While you might not remember the author or book, you most certainly do remember the weather of the opening.

You’re probably wondering just why I’m talking about the season and the weather this way. While this is my favorite season of the year, it is also one of the hardest for me. During fall and the beginning of winter, I’m moody, I write dark things that I normally wouldn’t write and all I want to do is laze around, not doing much at all. Hence the above sentence telling you about curling up on the couch and reading.

Some people have what’s called Seasonal Affect Disorder and it was noticed in places that are dark for large portions of the year. In Alaska and other places around the world, people use special lights, like grow lights, to give them back what they are missing from the sun. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve gone that far but I can certainly commensurate with those people. I will go days without even wanting to do something productive then a switch is flipped and I’m baking up a storm. Believe it or not, it is also one of the reasons lots of babies were conceived during this period as there wasn’t much else to do when the world got dark.

I’m better around lots of people doing things like writers’ meetings but not having many friends in Austria, and no family, is really taking its toll on me during the fall and winter seasons. So, I’ve learned to take my joy from other things. Like writing. It’s during this time that I write, besides the dark parts, some of my more happy stories like those set around Christmas. That holiday has done more for me during the winter months than any other.

Thanksgiving here is something new here whereas at home it’s a major tradition. In Austria, we’ve actually started the American tradition and invite many friends to our home. We love doing it and were amazed last year when we discovered a full sized turkey will fit into our small oven. We did dressing and pumpkin pie as well as other traditional American dishes as we shared one of our most precious holidays with people who didn’t know a thing about it prior. Sharing one’s traditions is a good way to learn about people and have them learn about you.

So, today, I will watch those clouds outside my window, looking for the dragon or train or plane…aren’t clouds amazing that way? And I’ll hope for the sun to come back soon. Until then, I’ll write the dark parts of my stories as well as some of the happy parts too.

But how about you? Just what do you do to keep the seasonal blues away? Do you write? Read? Do you bury your head under the pillows and wish it would suddenly be spring? One lucky commenter will get a copy of one of my happier stories, A Viennese Christmas.

Have a great month…and see you all next!

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at,, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at

A Taste of Autumn

Pumpkin Latte

I love fall. I like pulling my sweaters and boots out from the back of my closet. I adore the leaves changing colors. And I love curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. Right now, I’m also enjoying all the great autumn foods. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Acorn Squash – I’m not much of a cook, but this is one thing I love to make. I slice the squash in half, clean out the seeds, stick it in the crockpot and add butter and brown sugar on top. By dinner time, it’s soft and delicious.
  • Chili – Actually, my husband is the one who makes the chili, but there is nothing better than a warm bowl of chili on a cold day – especially if you add a little cheese and sour cream on top.
  • Pumpkin – I pretty much love anything with pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes. It tastes like fall.
  • Thanksgiving dinner – Turkey, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy. Yum! What could be better?

 What are your favorite fall foods? 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

November is Warmth from Within

2013-10-01 12.41.09
So, unless you’re in a different hemisphere, the weather’s cooling off and life is turning inward…. also, if you’re in a different hemisphere, your water spins the opposite way going down the drain, but that’s neither here nor there… so, it’s time to look inside to our fireplaces, warm kitchens with soup on the stove and muffins in the oven.

It’s time for hot cocoa and coffee. Time around the table for games. Movies on a cold night. Maybe it’s that time of year when the family gathers around. We remember the old days, family traditions.

Join us this month as we share the joy of Autumn and our own family traditions. Plus, hear from our Guest Bloggers, Draven St. James, Marian Lanouette, and Adele Downs.

For every comment is a chance to win a copy of my New Release from Entangled Publishing, Letters From Home, plus a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

  • Our LATEST Buzz!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series were released in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous was released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, A PROPOSAL & PUMPKIN PIE is on sale for .99 through Thanksgiving.